Making Waves

New nonprofit surfing environmentalist group fights coastal pollution.

Surfers. The word connotes sun, fun, waves, and . . . Drucker on management? In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Peter Drucker extolled the virtues of nonprofit organizations, suggesting they are at their best when held to the same standards as the rest of American business: the ability to produce results. That's been the guiding philosophy of the Surfrider Foundation, an eight-year-old, 16,000-member not-for-profit group of surfing environmentalists headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif., that scours the coasts, fights coastal pollution, and increases public access to beaches. With a paid staff of just five, executive director Jake Grubb, 42, relies upon a legion of volunteers, and a board of directors that reads like a Who's Who of surfing legends and environmental activists. Eighty-one percent of Surfrider's annual $700,000 budget is supported by membership dues, with the remainder coming from corporate sponsorships (from the likes of Patagonia and Esprit), grants, endowments, and fund-raising events. Fund-raising has not posed much of a problem. "We are offered a lot more money than we take," says Grubb, who so far has turned away donations from, among others, an oil company and a liquor company, which seemed at odds with Surfrider's mission. Sponsors are eager to be identified with recent programs like the Blue Water Task Force, instituted last year, in which local beach users monitor coastal pollution. Surfrider's results-oriented approach has enabled it to grow by 800 members a month and has spurred the formation of 16 chapters in nine states as well as in Australia, England, and France.

-- Alessandra Bianchi n

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Last updated: May 1, 1992

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